Red Knights Register Comeback Victory To Be Crowned City Champions
Senior Red Knights Register Comeback Victory To Be Crowned City Champions
By Sam Laskaris
Thanks in part to a popular soft drink, the Northern Red Knights are now city champs.
The Red Knights found themselves in desperation mode in the final minute of Friday’s Toronto high school senior boys’ football championship match staged at Varsity Stadium.
Northern, which trailed 14-0 at halftime, managed to claw back but was still trailing 14-13 against the Richview Saints in the final minute of the match.
That’s when Sheadenn Bowerbank exploded for a 61-yard touchdown run to give the Red Knights the lead, with just 51 seconds left on the game clock.
Northern receiver Finley Diab then caught a two-point conversion pass from Lenox Nizami to give his side a 21-14 advantage.
The Saints were unable to add any points on their final drive of the contest, allowing the Northern squad to hoist the championship trophy.
Bowerbank, a Red Knights’ star defensive back, has been increasingly utilized on offence in recent weeks.
But there was a bit of a concern on the Northern bench for him late in the third quarter of Thursday’s contest, after he returned an unsuccessful Richview field goal attempt for a whopping 111 yards, from five yards deep into his own end zone to the Saints’ four-yard line.
Bowerbank didn’t immediately return to the field to play defence after the Red Knights cut the Richview deficit to 14-13, when Ted Zaimi scored his second major of the match, via a two-yard run.
Zaimi’s first TD of the game, less than three minutes earlier, was via a four-yard rush.
Bowerbank explained why he missed some playing time on defence.
“I was low on sugar, a little lightheaded, a little dizzy,” he said. “I took some water, got some sugar and went back into the game and just helped my team get the win.”
Red Knights’ head coach George Gretes said Bowerbank was winded late in the third quarter after his lengthy return following Richview’s missed field goal attempt.
“It was a hot day and people were starting to get dehydrated,” Gretes said. “We got some sugar into him. We got some water into him and we got him back in.”
So what exactly was Bowerbank given on the Northern bench?
“We gave him 7-Up,” Gretes said, in retrospect laughing at the moment. “At that point he was dehydrated and we couldn’t find any sugars. I guess 7-Up saved the day.”
Bowerbank knew the Red Knights would need a late game-changing play if they had any chance of earning the W.
“The coach called me in,” he said. “I went in. I had one job to do and I went out there and did it.”
Bowerbank said he wasn’t concerned when his squad was down by 14 points at the half.
“If I’m being completely honest, I never doubted this team,” he said. “I knew that we could pull together and win. We scored what 21 points in the second half? I knew we could do it. We pulled through. And that’s just what we do. We’re a team that battles through adversity.”
Gretes wasn’t surprised to see Bowerbank, who was named the game’s MVP, come through in the clutch.
“He’s such a dynamic player,” he said. “We wouldn’t be in our position right now, carrying the trophy, if it wasn’t for him.”
Zaimi also had plenty of praise for Bowerbank.
“He’s a special guy,” he said. “There’s just something about him that I just don’t know. I’m excited to see what he does next.”
Like all of his teammates, Zaimi was euphoric following the match.
“Man, it feels fantastic,” he said. “It’s a feeling I’ve never felt in my life. Wow. This is fantastic. Honestly, I wouldn’t replace it with anything. I love my teammates and I’m just so proud of them today. It’s such a wonderful feeling.”
The Red Knights now have an opportunity to win one more game this season. With Thursday’s victory, Northern earned the right to participate in one of nine season-ending OFSAA Bowl games later this month.
The Red Knights will square off against the yet-to-be determined Ottawa league champs in the National Capital Bowl, scheduled for Nov. 30 in Guelph.